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Published On: Sat, Nov 23rd, 2019

Alternative wildlife you can spot on an African safari

Africa is well-known for the famous Big Five, comprising the five top animals – the Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhinoceros. The term originates from big-game hunters, who prized these animals above all others. These days some members of the Big Five are becoming endangered species, so hunting of the animals is generally frowned upon by animal conservation groups. 

photo/ Derek Keats via Wikimedia Commons

Among the African species currently considered endangered are white and black rhino, the mountain gorilla, the African penguin, the Pangolin, the Rothschild’s giraffe and chimpanzees. While it is great (and often only pure luck) to spot the Big Five on an African safari, there are several other animals that are equally interesting to see and learn about, besides zebra, giraffes and more. The following are three of them.

  1. The Honey Badger

Despite its diminutive size, the honey badger is known as being one of the most fearless creatures in Africa. With its deadly claws and sharp teeth, this animal is known for standing its ground against predators such as lions, leopards and hyenas, often with great success.

The honey badger is a nocturnal animal, so it can be difficult to see on a safari trip, but they have been spotted in camps, where they dig their way in looking for a tasty snack. With these impressive digging skills and remarkable intelligence, one particular honey badger named Stoffle made the headlines a few years ago, while revealing his formidable Houdini-like skills.

  1. The Pangolin

This highly hunted and critically endangered species is a treat to view if you can, and in appearance, looks like something from the dinosaur era. However, the pangolin is also a nocturnal animal, making it difficult to see one on a normal safari trip. They are also difficult to spot due to the fact they hang in trees, or hide themselves by curling up on the ground in a ball.

The pangolin protects itself by using the sharp scales on their backs to deter big cats, which love to eat them if they can, but cannot bite through the hard scales.

  1. The Wild Dog

Also known as the painted dog or Cape hunting dog, the African wild dog is normally seen on the open plains of sub-Saharan Africa. The nickname “painted dog” comes from the animal’s mottled coat, which has patches of black, white, brown, yellow and red fur. Of interest to note, the pattern is unique for each wild dog. 

In some ways resembling the family pooch, the wild dog is different in several ways, including the fact that it is has only four toes per foot, unlike five toes on other dogs. It also has much larger, rounded ears than the average dog to aid in its hunting practices. 

The African wild dog hunts in a pack and is an endangered species, as man takes over their African territory. They also tend to be susceptible to diseases which are spread by man’s domestic animals.

 Have fun on an African safari this year and ask your guide if they can help you view these fascinating species.

Author: Anne Sewell

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